Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s


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I've decided that to get ahead in the world I must first master typing and shorthand. This, after a college education! But I'd wasted that college education. Why couldn't I have majored in business? Something, anything, useful.

Letters from New York City - June 1965

Sun. eve.

My cousin's young daughter will visit

This was a nice windy day and I did nothing more exciting than laundry, and read a couple of plays from the library. I went there again yesterday after doing some shopping. The books I've gotten so far have been from the large browsing room. I haven't asked for anything that isn't there yet and don't know what happens when you do. Kathy took out a card too.

I hope your birthday present fits, Mother. I kept meaning to go out in the evening and get a card, but two evenings in a row it rained and my umbrella was at the office. Every payday I promise myself I'll get a second one so I'll have one in each place.

The lengthening job on the skirt is absolutely perfectionist. It's exactly the right length now. I don't know what I'll do when it needs cleaning again. In the future I'll think more than twice before buying knitted clothes. The skirt is a little tight now but all right.

I'm going to call Beverly this week about bringing Debbie in for a visit. [My married cousin Beverly lived in Irvington, NJ, with her young son and daughter Debbie.] The idea of seeing them at first sounded easy—"only forty minutes away"—but I've calculated it out now and they might as well be in Pennsylvania for the ease with which a visit can be managed. I'll have to go get Debbie and bring her back home, and transportation for the day will run about $6.00, including Irvington taxis.

It would probably be better for me to go there for a day and let Beverly go out, but I suggested this first, so will see how it works out this Saturday. Radio City, which I had in mind and was always impressed with myself, is now running "The Yellow Rolls Royce", and I'm not certain what kind of picture it is. "My Fair Lady" would be terrific except tickets are $4.80 except for the first six rows, which would be neck-breaking.

It's funny, I always had the idea that in theaters there were mostly the cheaper seats and just a few orchestra seats way down front. But the whole ground floor is orchestra and the cheapest tickets are sold only for the last row in the second balcony.

Pat and I saw "What Makes Sammy Run" Thursday night, third-from-the-last row in the second balcony. It was good, but I can't see how it's run for a year and a half. Barry Newman is the young lawyer, apprentice to Mike Carr on "The Edge of Night". When you watch that show now, know that he doesn't have any hot water in his apartment (it still hasn't been turned on again yet), that he lives only four blocks up from me, and that he's touched Steve Lawrence and Sally Ann Howes, and that Pat has kissed him. How fantastic! He also played Ali Hakim in the City Center production of "Oklahoma".

Send me Carol's California address. I haven't written to her at all yet.

By the way, if you can come, Mother, I have a single bed, but for the three dollars they move in another one.

Your information on the secretary survey was interesting. I've pretty much decided to start shorthand and typing at night in December. Maybe I could get ahead some other way, but now at the beginning I want the sure way. At least I'll definitely earn more money once I've learned them.

This promises to be a dull week, the second one after last payday. I must budget better, so there isn't such a rich week and a poor week. Goodnight.

Mon. eve.

To live on the upper East Side

Sorry for the long silence, the days fly by. Renee came back to work today. Her mother died last Sunday night. She had been in the hospital for about a week on the critical list after getting burned on a gas stove; she had Parkinson's disease to begin with. Renee's mother and Jean's died within a couple of weeks of each other. We sent fruit to Renee's family; I never knew before that you don't send Jewish people flowers; you send something sweet, like candy or fruit; it's a symbol of something.

Wednesday, day after tomorrow, the music clearance department is moving over to new quarters on Columbus Avenue. It looks like it will be very nice, at least it's on the first floor and has windows. I guess they're going to move everything at night; we all thought we'd get a day off. But I do wish we were moving downtown.

It was good to see you Sunday, if exhausting. I was tired from being with Debbie the day before. I've decided not to come home for the fourth; I know I'll regret it, because most people here will be going home. But I hate the thought of the holiday-weekend bus crush, and you being up at the lake complicates things. Also, I need clothes (no word from Peck & Peck yet), and since I get paid Friday, want to go shopping. So I'm passing up my chance for a suntan session.

When I had my physical exam when first employed, the ABC doctor said I should have my ears cleaned out or I'd soon have hearing interference. So I asked Miss Kuusisto to recommend a doctor and went to him. It was $10.00, and from talking to several people, that is NYC standard. The cost of living here!

I went to the library with a Japanese girl, Eiko, Wednesday night. She introduced me to a 53rd Street branch, which is much closer than the main one and suited for browsing. I've started to really read again; I hardly ever read at college, had no time for a whole book; just short things. I'd honestly forgotten how nice it is to get lost in a good book.

Saturday morning I had an appointment to visit the Collegiate Business Institute (I've decided to begin shorthand in September). It impressed me not in the slightest. I met the Sadie Brown (the one who says "Never underestimate a business education" in all her ads). She's a hard-looking not-too-bright old battle-axe, and though the school location and equipment look good, nothing connected with her could possibly be good.

This evening I had an appointment with the Mary Byers secretarial school and liked it a lot. It's at 45th and 5th.

Saturday morning after my visit with Sadie I walked around the East Side. I can't get over the aura of richness over there. The suntanned women with their poodles, maids wheeling pretty little blonde children around, doormen whistling, and trees. It's crazy to come to this pile of rock and then decide that what you simply must have is a tree, but I've decided that I want to live on East 61st Street between Fifth and Second avenues. They are tree-lined blocks filled with the most picturesque little townhouses you ever saw. There are windowboxes full of geraniums, balconies, and shutters.

I love seeing richness around—chauffeurs and expensive cars and expensive-looking people and expensive stores. You know it's there. In Scranton I was never very aware that there was such richness [in the world].

I still haven't written to Carol. Write me her Dartmouth address. And I haven't heard from Barb R. She must be completely at home up there.

If you don't see me in person too soon, Mother, you may see some material and a pattern next week.

Mon. aft.

Two new friends from Washington

This has been a nothing-much but very nice weekend here. You probably had heat and a couple of showers too; today is very gray. I spent today washing and ironing and letting down hems. I got some material and a pattern at Lord & Taylor Saturday which I'll send tomorrow, Mother. I wish I'd gotten something more season-spanning; this is blue & green print Liberty of London lawn, $2.50 a yard. I also bought a black skirt.

Tuesday night Miss Kuusisto had a lemonade-and-cookies meeting for all permanents who wanted to come in the fourth floor lounge, and showed a movie about Central Park. I admire her more all the time; she makes a friendly atmosphere. Kathy and I went and met, among others, two girls from the University of Washington who are working at the Port Authority this summer. They live just down the hall from me in 1018, Ann Brooks and Barbara Lake.

Kathy went home this weekend. Ann and Barbara have very funny hours; Barbara's are:

   Sunday off
   Monday 10 am - 6 pm
   Tuesday 8 am - 4 pm
   Wednesday 8 am - 4 pm
   Thursday off
   Friday 4 pm - midnight
   Saturday 4 pm - midnight

They can't get together very much. Saturday night I went to a Spanish movie, "La Tia Tula", with Ann. It was very good but I bet it never makes it to Scranton. Last night Barbara and I went to "What's New, Pussycat" which I didn't enjoy; it was a completely disconnected farce with Peter Sellers.

Afterward we walked over to the East Side and got a snack there. I had wanted to see it by night. Boy, I can tell it was made for me. Atmosphere. Every day New York gets better. It more than lives up to everything I thought it would be. Barbara wants to look at apartments and we're going to do it next Sunday. Just to get an idea.

Did you hear that the Abington Journal had made the New Yorker? It's enclosed, I was surprised to happen across it.

The hometown marriage news is very interesting. As far as I ever knew, the Marge Hackman - Karl Westerfeld and Barb Sorg - Ronnie Kellam relationships were nonexistent in high school.

My office didn't move yet; now they say it will be on Friday, and we'll probably get to leave early that day. Honestly, just last night when Barbara and I were over past the new ABC building on Sixth Avenue—it's really annoying that I can't be there too.

I've just discovered that hair-setting with beer is really a good thing—gives body. You should try it, Mother.

It's dinnertime.

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